Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Living up to the Lessons We Teach our Children - an excerpt from Confronting Animal Exploitation

Here's another excerpt from my 23-page essay in Confronting Animal Exploitation, officially due out April 1st (though it looks like you can put it on a Kindle or a Nook right now if you wanted to).
The late Stanley Sapon, professor of psycholinguistics at the University of Rochester, said, “we typically raise children from birth to five or six years in a kind of fantasy-land of ideal behavior on the part of the world’s inhabitants … a ‘land of goodness and mercy,’ a land where the animals are our friends, and we are the friends of the animals.”

Children under a certain age are not taught that other-than-human animals are here for us to exploit and kill. Instead, representations of these beings are used in children’s media to illustrate life lessons, as in books like Chicken Little and The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Other stories also teach us that other-than-human animals should be spared suffering and death—as is the case in Bambie—and should live free from captivity and have their intrinsically valuable lives respected by others—a major theme of, for example, the children’s movies Free Willy and Rio.

Vegans parents take these lessons to their logical conclusions and teach their children to not only say that animals are our friends, but also act as if they are. It’s not enough to say, “Be nice to animals.” We need to actually be nice to all animals. Chicken dinner, steak on Fridays and eggs for breakfast run counter to this message.

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